Warm Winter with Neighbors

Around this time of the year just before winter, sharing seems to be much more meaningful than usual. An event to share love and to ease neighbors’ worries about food for winter was held. The Intl. WeLoveU Foundation, which has helped our neighbors by sharing kimchi every winter, held the Kimchi-Making Event to Share Motehr’s Love for the 10th time this year. The members made kimchi with the love and care of a mother, wishing their unprivileged neighbors to be warm and healthy for the winter.

On November 15, around 200 members of the Foundation gathered at the Seongnam City Hall Square at 8 a.m. The salted Korean cabbages and spices, which the members in Okcheon, Chungbuk Province, had prepared for a week, were fresh and smelled good. The members explained that they were making healthy kimchi whose fillings and spices contain more than 20 ingredients of Korean agricultural and marine products such as radish, pear, leaf mustard, chives, water parsley, shrimp, oyster, squid, and more.”

At the center of the members, who were making kimchi carefully with aprons and kerchiefs, was Chairwoman Zahng Gil-jah. Vocalist Yun Tae-gyu held a cabbage for kimchi instead of a mike, and Mixed Martial Arts Fighter Im Chi-bin wore rubber gloves instead of boxing gloves to try to make kimchi, too.

Chairwoman Zahng Gil-jah said, “Kimchi occupies half of the meal for our unfortunate neighbors,” and expressed her gratitude toward the members who came to make kimchi for their neighbors. Yun Tae-gyu, who participated in the event despite his busy schedule, appreciated the kimchi, saying, “It tastes the best. This kimchi is the most precious since it is made of a mother’s love.” Im Chi-bin said, “I’ve only eaten kimchi so far. It’s my first time to make. It’s difficult and my back hurts but I feel proud, thinking that our neighbors will eat it deliciously. It seems that all the family members should make kimchi together rather than a mother does it alone.”

The members who participated in kimchi-making said in unison, “Having a mother at the center, everybody should help out with kimchi-making for his or her family and neighbors.” Park Ji-yeong, 45, from Geumgok-dong, Seongnam-si, said that she makes kimchi every year at home with her husband and son, and that it is a meaningful time to strengthen a family bond and to be generous by sharing it with neighbors and acquaintances. Jang Jeong-ae, 65, from Imae-dong, Seongnam-si, said, “My daughters and grandchildren come to help because it is a tough job to make much kimchi to eat throughout the winter. Young people are usually reluctant to make it, but here, I see young members make kimchi with love for neighbors in need. How good and beautiful!”

When lunch time came closer, Lee Jae-myeong the Seongnam City Mayor visited the event site. Rolling up his sleeves, he too made kimchi and encouraged the volunteers, saying “This kimchi tastes very good. Cabbages, spices, and saltiness are all perfect.” Passers-by also tasted the kimchi and admired it, “Are you going to give this delicious kimchi to neighbors?”

This day, kimchi was made more than 8,000kg [17,600lb]. The kimchi was put into 10kg [22 lb] containers and through Seongnam City Hall, it would be distributed to 800 households—elderly people living alone, child-headed households, poor families living in Seongnam City, disabled people belong to the Bundang Center for Independent Living and to the Seongnam Migrants’ Center, and foreign residents. Mayor Lee Jae-myeong received kimchi and said, “Kimchi, prepared for the cold winter, contains a mother’s love. Our residents will feel good to receive a box of kimchi, but they will be more encouraged by that fact that they have warmhearted neighbors.”

When the kimchi-making event was over, Chairwoman Zahng Gil-jah added, “This kimchi is tastier because the members made it heartily.” She thanked all the members for their hard work with neighborly love. When the members returned home after taking commemorative photographs after lunch, Chairwoman Zahng Gil-jah carried a load of kimchi to visit some of the residents.

She first visited an old couple in their 80s living in Taepyeong-dong, Seongnam-si. Although they lived well in the past, their family’s fortune went down as their children underwrote somebody’s debt and failed in businesses. And the husband had a stroke, and his wife had cataracts and other illnesses. Appreciating Chairwoman Zahng’s visit, the old lady grieved over her unfortunate situation. Chairwoman Zahng comforted her, saying, “You don’t need to be ashamed of poverty for it is not a sin. You receive help now, but later you can help others when your situation permits.” Next, she visited an old lady who barely manages her life alone by collecting waste paper in Sujin-dong. Her left hand was bent owing to rheumatism, and she had a depression, the illness of the mind. She said thanks repeatedly at the warmheartedness of the chairwoman and the members, showing tears.

Chairwoman Zahng not only delivered kimchi, rice, side dish and daily necessities, but also heating expenses to the senior citizens who were living in cold semi-basement rooms. Also, the old lady with a cataract would be supported with her surgery later.

Kimchi, which was delivered to the neighbors that day, wasn’t just food; it meant more than that to the neighbors, who were thankful to the Foundation members for their love and gifts with tears. The UNESCO has registered Korea’s kimchi making as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity. It highly appreciated the spirit of community in making and sharing kimchi together. The love of a mother, who is considerate of her family and neighbors, gave strength to them to overcome the severe winter.